Her friends teased her because she would never hang up her pictures. They stayed on the floor, leaning against the wall, waiting to be packed up, just in case she needed a quick exit. Commitment for her was tough.
From the beginning of September to the end of June, she ‘pretended’ to be normal with a normal job – teaching high school. But it was always about the next adventure and she needed money for that. When July 1st came around, she was on a plane going somewhere. One summer, while attending a summer course in Sienna, someone asked her brother how she was doing. “Still peripatetic,” he answered.
Her wanderings had begun early. The family immigrated to Canada in 1954, moving to Hamilton where she was given the name Brenda. She always knew that New York was the only place to be. At her first opportunity, she was out of there. First college then grad school at NYU. She returned to Toronto, ON. Canada where she dabbled in film production – an iffy career that gave you status but little remuneration. With her tastes and dreams, teacher’s college could fill in the gaps and give her the summers off. Read more
For This I Survived?
Children of Survivors Beyond The Trauma
“Tell me Sam. Where did you and my dad meet?”
“We went to camp together! ….. Auschwitz!”
There has to be some laughter, even in hell.
They had lived through unspeakable horrors. They experienced unbelievable evil. And when it was finished, the real pain began. They were walking skeletons and their nightmares continued. Their siblings, their parents, their home — all gone. They were Holocaust Survivors. They were our parents and we, their children, lived with “the ghosts that screamed.”
In the 1960s, early studies portrayed men and women so consumed and paralyzed by their traumas they were unable to function. The literature also found that their children were greatly affected by the weight of their parents’ grief. Some kids heard very little or they heard every detail of the horrors. They all felt it. But not everyone was defined by it. And yet, parents were determined to give their children a ‘normal’ life.
Now, there is an urgency and a greater willingness to share, to overcome the silences society inflicted on them growing up. It was time to revisit who they were then and who they are now.
Number one: never shame the family.
Number two: eat.
Maybe, eat first.
Some parents saw the funny and the absurd and often the humour was passed down. It was the weapon of choice.
Humour is part of the Jewish DNA during times of tragedy, even during ‘better’ times. Jews never let their guard down. Jews are funny! Jewish humour is commentary, sarcastic, biting and funny! Humour is the glue that has historically kept Jews together. Every interview – then and now – tells of resilience, of miracles and humour. Read more.
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